Looks like it’s Pakistan day here on SM. So, I figured that Mutineers might enjoy a series of interesting updates on Pakistan from one of my fav milblogs, Strategy Page. My single biggest beef with Stratpage is the lack of outside links so, take everything here with the requisite grain of salt. However, their material does & has generally lined up with info from other news sources over time and it’s very valuable to find it in nice bite sized chunks here.
The stats on Afghan refugees formerly & currently in Pakistan helps frame how intertwined the 2 countries are –
October 9, 2008: In Pakistan, the government has ordered all 70,000 of the remaining Afghan refugees (there since the 1980s Russian invasion of Afghanistan) in Bajaur to return home. In the last few months, some 20,000 have already fled back to Afghanistan. Most of the two million Afghan refugees went home after the Taliban were chased out of power in late 2001…
Pakistan’s internal toll from terrorism (particularly security forces asked to confront lawless regions) gives some context to why they’re sometimes skiddish to putting more boots on the ground in NWFP –
October 8, 2008: The head of the ISI gave members of Parliament a rare briefing. Although secret, and apparently superficial, some details leaked out. In the last fifteen months, over 1,200 Pakistanis have been killed by Islamic terrorist attacks (including 117 suicide bombings). In the last seven years, nearly 1,400 security forces personnel have died fighting Islamic radicals (Taliban and al Qaeda).
Offensives in the Swat Valley & civilian casualties –
The Pakistani offensive continues in the Swat Valley, where more of the Taliban and tribal leaders are getting cornered and killed. There are also more losses among the civilian population, because one of the primary weapons the army has is the ability to cut off electricity and road access. This has led to more disease and untreated illness among the tribal civilians.
In Kashmir, Indian troops spotted Islamic terrorists trying to cross over from Pakistan using a high (5,000 meter) pass. Troops were sent up and spent most of the last ten days fighting the Islamic gunmen they found up there, killing at least 13 so far…The difficulty of getting people across the border has been increasing for the past six years, since India began installing new sensors and equipping troops with thermal imagers.
Zardari on India’s intentions towards Pakistan –
The newly elected president of Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardari, has been making the rounds, visiting neighboring countries and allies in the West. He has made several statements which have enraged many Pakistanis back home…Zardari also said that India was never a threat to Pakistan. Again, this is something that is not appreciated back in Pakistan, where “defending the country against Indian aggression” has long justified all manner of excesses. But, in fact, India has never had any interest in taking over Pakistan. The place is a mess, and India has plenty of domestic problems already.
Apparently, Pakistan apparently has only enough cash for a month or two. Zardari made futile attempts to raise cash from Western countries, who said that they have enough problems of their own. Rumours are that Zardari has now reached out to…..India!! Hence the sweet talk…
To understand Pakistan’s problems in handling the NWFP region, you have to give it a little bit of context. Simple numbers as to how many soldiers/civilians/insurgents died, misses the historical picture of how insurgencies have been handled in Pakistan.
Historically, Pakistans response to insurgencies has been to use a sledgehammer where a surgical scalpel is needed. For e.g. the 1970s uprising in Bangladesh, or the Shia revolt in POK, or the baluch insurgency. This approach is used with a complete absence of any ‘win hearts/minds’ approach. Its an all stick, no carrot approach. When the Pakistani army can, it tries to use its foster kid, the unofficial ‘Army of Islam’, to achieve its goals. Use of Bin Laden to put down Shias in Gilgit, Al Badr to ethnically cleanse Bangladesh of Hindus, use of the ‘Mujaheddin’ against the USSR and the ongoing confrontation in Jammu and Kashmir.
Now, not only do they have to do their dirty work themselves, they also have to do it against their foster kids ! Pakistan is institutionally incapable of performing this mission with any amount of seriousness. Instead, we have arty regiments being used to flatten entire villages as communal punishment and fiercely independent and grudge bearing tribals exacting revenge on the helpless Frontier Constabulary. In such a context, the number of dead Pakistani soldiers/para mils and the number of dead civilians is simply a footnote and does not point to the actual situation on the ground.
The fight to put down the insurgency in Afghanistan/NWFP will have to start in Islamabad, not Bajaur/Swat/…
1 Â· MoorNam said
This actually creates an interesting dilemma for India. On one hand there is really no reason for India to fund and support an arch rival, but at the same time India would not want a nuclear-armed neighbouring state to go into anarchy. Chaos and disintegration of Pak will also make India a (very) dangerous and unpredictable place. This is looking more and more like the wall-street crisis in the usa. India may very well have to bail-out Pak. All Zardari has to do is to point the gun to his own head and say to India “do as I say or I will shoot the black guy”
I did read in a Business Standard article that Pakistan has been refused any help by ‘friendly countries’. But then what countries are being referred to? He is already going to China, has China too refused him some money? Sounds strange since it helps China strategically too and it seems like he will be receiving a warm welcome in China. Why would he ask India for money if China can give him the same.
Also the Saudis.
The countdown has begun.
1) The Nano car project was shifted from West Bengal to Gujarat 2) Indian national elections are on the horizon 3) The inevitable throning of Narendra Modi as the lion heart Prime Minister of India
All hell will break loose.. when that happens..
The chinese state supported candidate, the poster boy of Japanese industrial regeneration, the hope of South Korean capitalism, and finally a change in the new world order.
Modi as prime minister will forever alter pakistan, south asia, indo-china, eurasia, the western hemisphere.
As it has been said, by no less than nostradamus, one shall rise from the plains of the ganges, who shall engulf the masses of Arabia, destroy the hegemony of the west, and lead the world towards the end of Kalyuga
Damn… Now how long will this stay on sepia mutiny ( i bet 26 seconds )
Oooooh pakistan, your fate is gonna change soon…
Military force will definitely be required to eliminate the radical Taliban and Al-Qaeda folks who have taken to fighting and suicide bombing. But this has to be accompanied by a massive resettling of Afghan refugees including socio-economic rehabilitation & development of Afghanistan and NWFP. Without this, US will be committing the same mistake as in the past when it just washed its hands off the region after its interests in the Soviet-war was satisfied. The only problem will be to deal with the entrenched networks amongst the radicals n NWFP who were in league with Pak army/ISI. US can’t do much about it other than put pressure on Pak. The covert intrusions is a one way to apply this pressure by stick. But at the end of the day it is Pak which needs to realize the importance not supporting the radicals. Unfortuntely Pak’s connections with the Islamic radicals in the entire country is a source of sustenance of their anti-India passion which is the lifeblood of their nationalism.
Another catch with covert operations is that you are inflaming many elements in the army/ISI who in the past didn’t like a wee bit the incursions of Pak air-space by Clinton’s missile strike on Bin-Laden without any prior warning to the establishment. Interesting aspects of this story including the history from Afghan invasion to 9/11 is given in the following books – Pakistan: In the Shadow of Jihad and Afghanistan by Mary Ann Weaver
Descent into Chaos by Ahmed Rashid
off topic… on a language usage note:
correct usage would be “sometimes skittish.”
“Skids” are what happens in your underwear, although in this context, “skiddish” may be quite appropriate.
@Moore Yeah. Well said. Unfortunately. Sigh.